Wednesday, February 27, 2008

claudia hat

claudia hat


The Claudia Hat is the first hat that I've knit since the end of December. It's a beautiful but fairly simple pattern and only took a day and a half, knitting at a leisurely pace. The design is suitable for men and women.

I went up a size on the suggested needles, since I like my hats to fit a little looser. There was a bit of laddering when I switched from circulars to dpns, but that is completely my fault. I'm still hit-and-miss with dpns: sometimes I ladder, sometimes I don't. Practice, practice, practice.

The pattern is a definite keeper and I will knit it again when the opportunity arises.

More pictures at Flickr

Sunday, February 24, 2008

kool-aid dyed yarn

kool-aid dyed yarn


Last week I tried dying yarn with Kool-Aid for the first time. The tutorials at Knitty and Keep On Knitting In The Free World were my guides. I am pleased to say I managed to not make a mess or stain myself.

I tried the Kool-Aid dying on the leftover natural marl Patons Classic Merino (100% wool) I had from knitting the Scrunchable Scarf. The store didn't have many flavors/colors (no blues or greens), so I went with grape, black cherry and strawberry. I also did a test on some Lion Brand Wool-Ease (80% acrylic/20% wool) with the leftover Kool-Aid.

The Patons took the dye very well. The Kool-Aid even got rid of the nasty chemical smell that had plagued the skeins of Patons. The Lion took the dye too, though to a lesser degree. I knit swatches of each and after five handwashes, the Patons has stayed colorfast, but the Lion continues to bleed.

I'm not sure what I'll use this ball of yarn for; maybe a simple ribbed, black-striped scarf. I have ordered some plain yarn from Knit Picks to continue experimenting. Here are a few reminders for next time:

*Use the top part of the broiler pan (that allows for drainage) so that any dye that isn't immediately soaked up by the yarn doesn't pool on the underside of the hank and make muddied colors.

*When setting the color in the microwave, heat for 1.5 minutes, cool for 5 minutes. Do 2-3 cycles.

*Play around with my old Wiltons food coloring pastes and vinegar to dye the yarn.

*Try making self-striping yarn.

kool-aid dyed yarn
top: Patons; bottom: Lion


More pictures at Flickr

Saturday, February 23, 2008

creamed spinach

creamed spinach with pasta


Creamed spinach has always been one of those pseudo vegetable side dishes. With all that cream and butter you can't really taste the spinach, but because it's green and has the word "spinach" in it you count it as a veggie.

I came up with this recipe as a healthier alternative. It has no added oil or butter. I like to use it as a pasta sauce and it also makes a good base for a lasagna filling and for spinach dip.


Creamed Spinach

2 10 oz. packages frozen chopped spinach, undrained
1 green onion, finely chopped
2 cups broth (chicken, vegetable or whatever compliments what you are serving)
1 8oz. package Neufchatel or cream cheese, in small chunks
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Pinch nutmeg
2-3 tablespoons cornstarch (depends on how thick you would like it)
1/4 cup water

In saucepan, over medium heat, combine broth, cheese, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Once mixture is boiling and cheese is mostly melted, add spinach and green onion and bring to a boil again. Make a slurry out of cornstarch and water, slowly add it to the spinach mixture and boil until thick. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

Makes 8 servings.

*****


For a quick dinner I like to mix some creamed spinach with linguine noodles (as shown in the pictures). If you need protein you can add grilled chicken breast or steak. Sprinkle with some parmesan, quattro formaggio or other favorite cheese.

Lasagna filling: Mix half a recipe of the creamed spinach with a pound of ground turkey that has been browned with a diced yellow or white onion.

Spinach dip: Refrigerate a half recipe of the creamed spinach until well chilled. Combine spinach with 1 1/2 cups plain yogurt (or sour cream if you are feeling decadent), 1/4 cup finely diced yellow or white onion and 1 cup of grated carrots. Salt and pepper to taste.

While this recipe can be frozen, the spinach doesn't always keep its green color very well. If you do choose to freeze a portion, be sure to reheat it very thoroughly, otherwise it will have a curdled appearance.

creamed spinach with pasta


More pictures at Flickr

the olive plan 2008 - week 8

the olive plan 2008 - week 8


Number of olives knit this week: 3 (green)
Total for the year to date: 25

Thursday, February 21, 2008

scrunchable scarf

scrunchable scarf


After buying a couple of skeins of Patons Classic Merino in color Natural Marl on a whim, I had no idea what to do with it. Scrunchable Scarf came up in a Ravelry search and it looked good in marled colorways, so problem solved!

Knit Notes
*Started Sunday, February 10, 2008. Finished Wednesday, February 13, 2008.

*Cast on 26 sts on US sz 10.5s to make the scarf 4-inches wide. Knitting until it was 65-inches long used up about 1.25 skeins of the Patons. The large needles give a nice drape but still makes for a warm and cozy scarf.

*The Patons yarn smelled really bad! Bad enough to give me a headache on the first day and make me somewhat queasy on the other days. The smell was chemical, like a solvent. I've never had that problem with Patons yarn before. Hopefully I'll be able to get the smell out so I can actually wear the scarf.

*The scarf looks a lot like the Enjoyable Rib Stitch Scarf, except without the yarnover openness. Pattern is suitable for men and women.

scrunchable scarf


More pictures at Flickr

Monday, February 18, 2008

cherry ice cream randomness

cherry ice cream


It's a cherry kind of holiday weekend. Breyers Cherry Vanilla Ice Cream is keeping me company. Deliciously free of chocolate chunks, thankyousoverymuch.

Next pattern for me to develop is a simple tea cozy. Concept has been worked out, still have to knit and write. I think I'm going to take a break before tackling that one though. Knit a couple of patterns from my Ravelry queue first.

Finished the Claudia Hat on Sunday. It only took a day and a half at a normal pace. Very happy with the pattern and will keep it for future use (pictures and full notes next week).

The leftover Patons Natural Marl from knitting the Scrunchable Scarf (write-up coming soon) is being put to use in my first attempt at Kool-Aid dying. The hank is drying now. Also did a test dye on Lion Wool-Ease. I'm curious to see how they both turn out.

Rest of today will be spent curled up with tea, watching Becoming Jane.

More pictures at Flickr

Saturday, February 16, 2008

cherries are the bomb - knit cherries pattern

knit cherries


On this Presidents' Day weekend, we are suppose to remember US presidents. So let's remember little Georgie Washington and his hatchet and him chopping down a poor, defenseless cherry tree (myth?) for a moment and knit some cherries.

I like/love lemons, but cherries are another favorite fruit. And, well, let's face it, you can't really eat lemons straight up the way you can eat cherries. A fruit shaped like a sexy little bomb? Oh yes please!

I don't know what George had against cherry trees. Cherry pie, maraschino cherries, cherry ice cream (without chocolate chunks!), fresh Bing cherries that stain your lips a purple-y blue. What's not to like?


Cherries are the Bomb

Do not reproduce this pattern elsewhere. This pattern is for personal use only. In other words, don't try to make money off of it.

Materials
Set of five US size 6 double pointed needles
Worsted weight yarn in colors red and green
Stitch marker
Material for stuffing (yarn scraps or batting)
Yarn needle

Cherry Pattern
Using red yarn, cast on 6 sts and knit one row as for I-cord.
Divide sts equally among 3 dpns. Place stitch marker and begin to knit in the round.

Round 1: *k1, kfb; repeat from * (9 sts)
Round 2: knit
Round 3: *k1, kfb, k1; repeat from * (12 sts)
Round 4: knit
Round 5: *k1, kfb; repeat from * (18 sts)
Rounds 6-8: knit
Round 9: *k1, k2tog; repeat from * (12 sts)
Round 10: knit
Round 11: *k1, k2tog, k1; repeat from * (9 sts)
Round 12: knit

Stuff cherry with yarn scraps or batting

Round 13: *k1, k2tog; repeat from * (6 sts)
Round 14: knit

Transfer all stitches onto one dpn and switch to green yarn

Row 15: k2tog as if for I-cord across row (3 sts)

Continue knitting as an I-cord until cherry stem is the length you desire. Knit one stitch and k2tog the last two stitches (2 sts). Leave this cherry on the needle, cut a 6-inch tail and set aside. Using the remaining four dpns, make a second cherry in the same manner.

Once both cherries have been made, transfer the first cherry stem onto the dpn you are now using. You should now have 4 sts on one needle. Knit the 4 sts as an I-cord for about 4 rows to join stems. Cut yarn and leave a 6-inch tail. With yarn needle, pass yarn tail through stitches, knot discreetly and weave in ends. Poke, squish and mold your cherries into nice little balls.

Leaf Pattern
Leaf is knit flat. With green yarn, cast on one stitch.

Row 1: kfb (2 sts)
Row 2: k1, kfb (3 sts)
Row 3: k1, kfb, k1 (4 sts)
Rows 4-6: knit
Row 7: k1, k2tog, k1 (3 sts)
Row 8: k1, k2tog (2 sts)
Row 9: k2tog (1 st)

Cut yarn and leave a 6-inch tail. With yarn needle, pass yarn tail through last remaining stitch on the needle. Weave in tail so both cast on and cast off tails are at the same end of the leaf.

Sew leaf to joined cherry stems. Weave in all tails.

*****


If you don’t have a fifth dpn, you can use any other US 6, or smaller, needle or a piece of yarn to hold your stitches while you knit the second cherry.

Sure, you can make a single cherry too (I made mine a maraschino). Knit as above, but once the stem is the length you want, kfb into first and third stitches so you have 5 sts on your needle. I-cord for 4 rows, pass yarn tail through stitches, knot discreetly and weave in ends.

Cherries are approximately 1.25 inches in diameter.

Pattern now available for download as a pdf file.

knit maraschino cherry


More pictures at Flickr

the olive plan 2008 - week 7

the olive plan 2008 - week 7


Number of olives knit this week: 4 (3 green, 1 black)
Total for the year to date: 22

Thursday, February 14, 2008

knit hearts

knit hearts


Happy Valentine's Day!
Happy Quirkyalone Day!
Happy Ferris Wheel Day!


These knit hearts are so cute and were a quick knit. If you aren't paired up this year, why not knit some for yourself? Everyone deserves some love. :)

Free pattern at Mochimochi Land.

knit hearts

Sunday, February 10, 2008

a dream of green peas

I seem to rarely remember my dreams these days, but for some reason I remembered last night's. Or I should say an aspect of it. It concerned a bowl of green peas. That's all I can remember. A red bowl filled with green peas. I don't particularly *like* green peas. They are ok to add color or as a garnish for a dish, but if you set a bowl of green peas in front of me expecting me to eat them plain, I'd give you a dirty look. Trying to analyze this is bringing up nothing.

There's been a feeling of impending... not doom. Impending change, I guess. I feel as if this week is going to be a bit of a chore to get through.

I finished the knit cherries. Should have that pattern up next week. And I am almost finished with the collection of knit citrus.

Finally set up my Ravelry profile: ilikelemons.

Thinking of getting a new camera. It's between the Canon Digital Rebel Xti and the Nikon D40x. I'm leaning toward the Canon. The new models come out around April so I am going to try waiting until then, hoping for a price drop on the existing models.

The weather has turned decidedly Spring-like here. 66 degrees and sunny yesterday, though the fog started to roll over the hills in late afternoon.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

random scarves

scarf - enjoyable rib stitch


A few notes on some of the scarves I worked on towards the end of last year. Modifications to the patterns are noted.

*****


scarf - enjoyable rib stitch


Enjoyable Rib Stitch Scarf - Though very easy and repetitive, this scarf lived up to it's name. The Enjoyable Rib Stitch Scarf is cozy enough for Northern California winters. I cast on 26 sts on US sz 10.5s to get 5-inch wide scarves. Very quick to knit and I like that it has the open, lacework look without being strictly feminine.

*****


scarf - palindrome


Palindrome Scarf - Just as easy as the Irish Hiking Scarf *and* it's reversible. I made my Palindrome on US sz 10.5s and only did two cable repeats to make a skinny scarf.

*****


scarf - karaoke cable


Karaoke Cable Scarf - Had to bump up the levels on the picture to get the cables to show. Karaoke Cable was cute and easy. At the midway point, I switched the direction of the cables (shown in the above picture) so that when hanging around the neck, the cables would face in complimentary directions. And you guessed it, knit on US sz 10.5s.

*****



More pictures at Flickr

the olive plan 2008 - week 6

the olive plan 2008 - week 6


Number of olives knit this week: 2 (green)
Total for the year to date: 18

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

oh balls! - knit balls pattern

balls, balls, balls


Many years ago I saw the movie Impromptu, about the affair between George Sand and Frederic Chopin. With a cast of well known actors, beautiful locations and costuming, and an interesting story, I am a bit embarrassed to say that what I remember most is that "Oh Balls!" was the stand-out line of the movie for me.

A sphere is such a versatile shape to have in one's knitting repertoire. I use this ball pattern to make fruits, toys or something soft enough to throw at the television (oh like you haven't wanted to throw something at the tv before).


Oh Balls!

Do not reproduce this pattern elsewhere. This pattern is for personal use only. In other words, don't try to make money off of it.

Materials
Set of US size 7 double pointed needles
Worsted weight yarn
Stitch marker
Material for stuffing (yarn scraps, batting, plastic grocery bags, etc.)
Yarn needle, for weaving in ends

Pattern
Cast on 6 sts and knit one row as for I-cord.
Divide sts equally among 3 dpns. Place stitch marker and begin to knit in the round.

Round 1: kfb all sts (12 sts)
Round 2: knit
Round 3: *k1, kfb; repeat from * (18 sts)
Round 4: knit
Round 5: *k2, kfb; repeat from * (24 sts)
Round 6: knit
Round 7: *k3, kfb; repeat from * (30 sts)
Round 8: knit
Round 9: *k4, kfb; repeat from * (36 sts)
Round 10: knit
Round 11: *k8, kfb; repeat from * (40 sts)
Rounds 12-14: knit
Round 15: *k8, k2tog; repeat from * (36 sts)
Round 16: knit
Round 17: *k4, k2tog; repeat from * (30 sts)
Round 18: knit
Round 19: *k3, k2tog; repeat from * (24 sts)
Round 20: knit
Round 21: *k2, k2tog; repeat from * (18 sts)
Round 22: knit

Stuff ball with yarn scraps, batting, etc.

Round 23: *k1, k2tog; repeat from * (12 sts)
Round 24: knit
Round 25: *k2tog; repeat from * (6 sts)

Cut yarn leaving a 6-inch tail. Thread needle with yarn tail, pull through remaining stitches and knot discreetly. Run needle down the center of ball and through to other side. Snip excess tail close to ball’s surface. Makes about a 2.5-inch diameter ball.

*****


The size of the balls can be adjusted by using larger needles and chunkier yarn. You can also change the size by adding more increase, and corresponding decrease, rounds.

The striped ball is easily made by casting on and knitting rounds 1-10 with color 1, switching to color 2 for rounds 11-15 and changing to color 3 for rounds 16-25.

Pattern now available for download as a pdf file.

This pattern is now available in German (translated by Kalinumba, with my permission).

striped ball


More pictures at Flickr

Saturday, February 2, 2008

the olive plan 2008 - week 5

the olive plan 2008 - week 5


Number of olives knit this week: 3 (1 black, 2 green)
Total for the year to date: 16

snowflower hat pattern

snowflower hats


Happy Groundhog Day! Whether or not the lovable marmot (woodchuck, land beaver, whistlepig) saw his shadow or not, the calendar says that there are six more weeks of winter. Plenty of time to knit a warm, cozy hat.

This hat is based on Amy King's Fake Isle Hat, but I've modified it to use a classic fair isle snowflake pattern. Or is it a flower? A snowflaker? A snowflower!

The crown pattern and overall gauge have been modified a bit as well.


Snowflower Hat

Do not reproduce this pattern elsewhere. This pattern is for personal use only. In other words, don't try to make money off of it.

Materials
Size US 7 circular needle (16 inches)
Size US 7 set of double pointed needles
Main color (MC), worsted weight yarn
Contrast color (CC), worsted weight yarn
Stitch marker
Yarn needle, for weaving in ends

Pattern
With MC and circular needles, cast on 98 stitches. Place marker and join round.

Rounds 1-6: *k4, p3; repeat from *
Rounds 7 & 8: k all sts
Rounds 9 & 10: Switch to CC and k all sts
Rounds 11 & 12: Switch to MC and k all sts

Rounds 13-26: Using MC and CC, knit the pattern from the following chart. Note: pattern begins at lower, right-hand corner. MC = white, CC = black

snowflower  chart


Rounds 27 & 28: k all sts with MC
Rounds 29 & 30: k all sts with CC
Rounds 31 & 32: k all sts with MC

Rounds 33-52: Using MC and CC, knit the pattern from the following chart. Note: pattern begins at lower, right-hand corner. MC = white, CC = black. Switch to double pointed needles when there are too few stitches on the circular to knit comfortably.

snowflower crown chart


Round 53: k all sts with CC

Cut yarn leaving a 12-inch tail. Thread tail through remaining sts, gather and fasten tightly. Weave in ends. Hat is approximately 20-inches around and 8.5-inches high, unstretched.

*****


Switch up the ribbing of the brim rounds to give a different look. For example, the grey hat used 5x2 ribbing to give it a slightly curled edge.

For the child-sized pink hat, using US size 5 needles, cast on in CC and then beginning with round 1, switch to MC and knit hat as instructed. Child-sized hat is approximately 17-inches around and 7-inches high, unstretched.

Pattern now available for download as a pdf file.

snowflower hat


More pictures at Flickr